Habitual or Vexatious Complainants Policy
- For this policy, the following definition of habitual or vexatious complainants will be used: The repeated or obsessive pursuit of:
(i) Unreasonable complaints or unrealistic outcomes; or
(ii) Reasonable complaints in an unreasonable manner.
- Where complaints continue and have been identified as habitual or vexatious per the criteria set out in the attached document (Schedule A), the PRESIDENT, following discussions with the Committee, will seek agreement to treat the complainant as a habitual or vexatious complainant and for an appropriate course of action to be taken. The attached schedule (B) details the options for dealing with habitual or vexatious complaints.
- The PRESIDENT will notify complainants, in writing, of the reasons why their complaint has been treated as habitual or vexatious and the action that will be taken.
- Once a complainant has been determined to be habitual or vexatious, their status will be kept under review and monitored by the President, with reports being taken to the Committee as required. If a complainant subsequently demonstrates a more reasonable approach, their status will be reviewed.
Schedule A – Criteria for Determining Habitual or Vexatious Complaints
Complainants (or anyone acting on their behalf) may be deemed to be habitual or vexatious where previous or current contact with them shows how they meet one of the following criteria:
- Persist in pursuing a complaint where the Diamond Valley Archers’ complaints process has been fully and properly implemented and exhausted.
- Persistently change the substance of a complaint or continually raise new issues, or seek to prolong contact by continually raising further concerns or questions whilst the complaint is being addressed.
- Are repeatedly unwilling to accept documented evidence given as factual, deny receipt of an adequate response despite correspondence specifically answering their questions, or do not accept that facts can sometimes be difficult to verify when a long time has elapsed.
- Repeatedly do not identify the specific issues which they wish to be investigated, despite reasonable efforts of the Diamond Valley Archers to help them specify their concerns, or where the concerns identified are not within the remit of the Diamond Valley Archers to investigate.
- Regularly focus on a trivial matter to the extent that is out of proportion to its significance and continue to focus on this point. It is recognised that determining what a trivial matter is can be subjective and careful judgment will be used in applying this criterion.
- Have threatened or used physical violence towards members/volunteers at any time. This will, in itself, cause personal contact with the complainant or their representative to be discontinued, and the complaint will, after that, only be continued through written communication. The Committee will determined that any complainant who threatens or uses actual physical violence towards members/volunteers will be regarded as a vexatious complainant. The complainant will be informed of this in writing and notified of how future contact with Diamond Valley Archers will be made.
- Have, in the course of addressing a registered complaint, had an excessive number of contacts with the Diamond Valley Archers – placing unreasonable demands on members/volunteers. Contact may be in person, by telephone, letter, email, or fax.
Judgment will be used to determine excessive contact taking into account the specific circumstances of each case.
- Have harassed or been verbally abusive towards employees/volunteers dealing with the complaint on more than one occasion. Employees/volunteers recognise that complainants may sometimes act out of character during stress, anxiety or distress and will make reasonable allowances for this.
- Are known to have recorded meetings or face-to-face/telephone conversations without the prior knowledge and consent of other parties involved.
- Make unreasonable demands on the Diamond Valley Archers and its members/volunteers and fail to accept that these may be unreasonable. For example, insist on responses to complaints or enquiries being provided more urgently than is reasonable or within the Diamond Valley Archers’ complaints procedure or normal recognised practice.
- Make unreasonable complaints that impose a significant burden on the human resources of the Diamond Valley Archers and where the complaint:
▪ Clearly does not have any serious purpose or value; or
▪ Is designed to cause disruption or annoyance; or
▪ Has the effect of harassing the public authority; or
▪ Can otherwise fairly be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable. ▪
- Make repetitive complaints and allegations that ignore the replies Diamond Valley Archers Officers have supplied in previous correspondence.
Schedule B – Options for Dealing with Habitual or Vexatious Complainants The options below can be used singularly or in combination depending on the circumstances of the case and whether the complaint process is ongoing or completed.
- A letter to the complainant setting out responsibilities for the parties involved if Diamond Valley Archers are to continue processing the complaint. If terms are contravened, consideration will be given to implementing other actions as indicated below.
- Decline contact with the complainant, either in person, by telephone, by fax, by letter, by email or any combination of these, provided that one form of contact is maintained. This may also mean a single designated officer will be nominated to maintain contact (and an appointed deputy in their absence). The complainant will be notified of this in person.
- Notify the complainant, in writing, that the Diamond Valley Archers have responded fully to the points raised and have tried to resolve the complaint, but there is nothing more to add and continuing contact on the matter will serve no useful purpose. The complainant will also be notified that the correspondence is at an end, advising the complainant that they are being treated as a habitual or vexatious complainant, and as such, the Diamond Valley Archers does not intend to engage in further correspondence dealing with the complaint.
- Inform the complainant that the Diamond Valley Archers will seek legal advice on habitual or vexatious complaints in extreme circumstances.
- Temporarily suspend all contact with the complainant in connection with the issues relating to the complaint being considered habitual or vexatious while seeking legal advice or guidance from its solicitor or other relevant agencies.
- Inform the complainant that if it is found that they have made false or baseless claims, they may face disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the Association.